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A New Valve, No Incision: A New Lease on Life

For the first time ever in Orange County, patients who are too ill to undergo a lifesaving heart valve replacement surgery have a completely non-surgical, life-changing option.

The Jeffery M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute at Hoag now offers a percutaneous Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a new and innovative approach to aortic valve replacement, in which a surgeon inserts a catheter into an artery in the groin and feeds a replacement heart valve into place.

This new procedure replaces an innovation adopted less than three years ago by the hospital that utilized a minimally invasive surgery to perform the TAVR. That surgery required a tiny incision and was associated with a four-day hospital stay. The newer technology, by contrast, allows patients to receive their heart valve without any incision and return to their lives in as short as 48 hours.

More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from aortic stenosis that can progress to restrict every day activities, including walking short distances. Replacing ailing valves gives these patients their life back – but a third of them are deemed inoperable, either because they are too elderly, too ill or have another medical problem that makes an open-heart operation too risky.

Without an operation, most people with aortic stenosis will die within two years. Hoag is one of a handful of hospitals around the state and the only one in Orange County approved to perform TAVR. And now, with the new non-surgical approach, the hope is to give a new lease on life to more people than ever.

“The newer technology is a tremendous advancement over the earlier versions, which means more people can benefit from this life-changing procedure,” said Aidan A.Raney, M.D., Director, Cardiac Surgery and James & Pamela Muzzy Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Surgery. “This commitment to incorporating the most innovative technology available is one reason Hoag cardiac patients achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes in the nation. It is our constant goal to give patients greater access to safer, more advanced cardiovascular care.”

Hoag performs more heart valve repairs than 90 percent of all cardiac programs in the nation, including minimally invasive robotic valve replacement surgeries, and has the highest volume valve program in the county. This expertise translates into a skill level that exceeds most programs.